The Menswear Style Podcast

Eddie Lofthouse, Founder of High Point Drinks

April 04, 2022 Menswear Style Episode 170
The Menswear Style Podcast
Eddie Lofthouse, Founder of High Point Drinks
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

With decades of experience and the freedom to find unique possibilities in fermentation, High Point Drinks have created layered and complex non-alcoholic drinks. Their premium fermented non-alcoholic aperitifs and digestifs are made the right way - with time, heart and soul by their expert team on the Cornish coast.

In this episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interview Eddie Lofthouse, Founder of High Point Drinks about his brewing background and what inspired the launch of this non-alcoholic beverage brand which is fermented and blended in Cornwall. Peter Brooker and Eddie talk about the changing drinking culture and habits, ingredients, health, non-alcohol trends, where the brand name comes from, how the drink blends and infusions are made, and signature serves.

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PB:

Hello, welcome to another episode of the menswear style podcast. I'm your host Pete Brooker. Today I am talking to Eddie Lofthouse, founder at Harbour brewing and high point drinks and we're going to focus on high point drinks today with decades of experience and the freedom to find unique possibilities in fermentation. They have created layered and complex non alcoholic drinks. High points. Premium fermented non alcoholic aperitifs and digestive are made the right way with time heart and soul by their expert team on the Cornish coast. And here to talk about high point drinks, in his own words, is Eddie Lofthouse.

Unknown:

So I'm Eddie, I started high point, sort of the concept about three years ago really, just to clarify, like, I am not a known out guy and you know, my background is IT team brewing beer, and I founded a brewery that we we've done all right for ourselves. So we space for the best bars and restaurants around the country. So the the inspiration for the non hour was really a drive to drink less personally, really getting basically getting winched up by my wife for getting home after work on a Monday, just that that moment, when you get home, you just like to switch off and just go have a beer. Mike just won, you know, it's not like I've got this massive alcohol problem. It's just that that switch off there at the end of the day. And she was like, Oh, why don't you just have, you know, a glass of water or and it just didn't, it just didn't give you that same thing. So we started playing around a lot around what could we do within beer, whether it's not our beer, and as yet, you know, we were like, we've got some amazing brewers at work for us, I haven't found a beer that really hits the mark for me yet. That's, that's not a less than proposition. And the same with with non spirits in many ways, you know, you know, don't want to talk about other people's products. But I haven't found a non agenda, it's as good as gin. Like, I haven't found a non elk alternative, that is a mimic product that is as yet as good as the real thing. So when we started out, it was never to mimic a product that's already out in the market. So it wasn't making it not out there that wasn't quite as good as a real beer or it wasn't making a non agenda. It wasn't quite up to a real gym, we wanted to make a product that, that we really enjoyed that that just fit it in a moment. And that after work and we live you know, we I live down by the beach so that watching the sunset Monday night. Yeah, can't drink every day. So what what is it that that sort of Aperol moment that gin and tonic that first drink of the evening, like a spritzy summer drink. And that's where we came up with high point Ruby sort of grapefruity really better. It allows you to drink at the same pace as an alcoholic drink, which I think is really important because a lot of soft drinks are such, you just guzzle them down, you know, I'm drinking, I'm drinking a ginger beer at the moment and you know, that will be gone in two minutes. And if I sugar content, it's not particularly great for you. So anyway, I sort of digress but the sort of driver for it was personal, wanting to be better, you know, but at the same time, not in a sort of way that we want to preach about non Alex the only way forward, we make the majority of our money from selling beer. So that was wrong of us. But it's that that moment where you're willing to, to sort of compromise on you know, we all know we should make better choices, and it's about making appropriate choices for me. So I still go out to the pub with my wife have a few drinks still, you know, go watch footy and have a couple of pints with a glass of wine with dinner. But you know, you know monday, tuesday wednesday night when I don't really need to have a drink. It replaces that moment for me. Yeah, you know, my wife now she prefers it to to book to sort of normal drinks that she would have gone for in the past so it's really replaced alcohol for her. But for me, you know I still enjoy a full fat there as well as you know, one of our other drinks that we produce.

PB:

Yeah, it's interesting it is sometimes it's more about routine for guys and it like you say you're finished work you're almost on the clock. I mean, I grew up my dad would come home and that would be you know his relief. He might even have one or two in the in the lorry on the way home that was. You know, that things were like things were done. You know how easy it is your time, shall we say? But it's kind of habit forming. Isn't it? Just that sitting down switching off? So how do you think it? Why do you think that is personally as well as it serves as a relief? Well,

Unknown:

I don't even think it I really don't think I mean as an ex smoker. I gave up smoking really easily. I was I didn't struggle but it was what do I replace it with in that moment? You know, get up in the morning. Is that with coffee and a cigarette, and the cigarette was just a habit, but But I remember when they stopped, it was sort of like, Alright, what do I replace that with? And it wasn't that I needed the nicotine, it was simply the habit part. I think having that drink that switch off moment for a lot of us, you know, you get to the end of a long day, get home or whatever time it is of six, seven o'clock. How do I now switch from work mode to switch off mode and I don't think it's about the alcohol I think it's simply is the habit that we've a lot of us have gone into in our, you know, pre dinner, drink, whatever it is, you go around to friends houses, it's that, oh, let's have a drink. So, you know, alcohol, I don't think is the issue. It's the what do we replace the alcohol with that allows us to still be creatures of habit, because that's what we are generally in life, and still enjoy that. And it not feel like a less than proposition or an in theory replacement for something. So having a having a beverage that you drink at about the same pace, because a lot of soft drinks, you know, you Ghazal if you go to the pub, and your friends are all drinking pints, and you're drinking Coke, you'll finish your coke so quickly. And so it's about you know, for me, a lot of it's about the moderation of and moderation of liquid intake almost because you can't sit in there and drink, let's replace an apple moment. You don't net an apple into mobile, you might connect. Generally one doesn't use

PB:

it, my girlfriend says she will do

Unknown:

you know about finding finding a drink that can replace that moment and replace the speed observe that they experience that feeling something's something special as well, if you make it a drink at home, whether it's a gin and tonic or Apple or opening a beer, important glass and you get a nice head or whatever it is, is part of the habit of preparing a beverage for that moment as well. Even if it's just you know that when you open a beer and you get that's, you know, when you open the it's part of that it's all about the sensory thing. It's not just around the drink, and certainly not the alcohol. So it's finding those those moments where you know, ours is ours is generally mixed with tonic the Ruby. So you know, it's that 50 mils, ice slice, and then tonic water. And it you know, it allows you to carry on those habits that a lot of us have formed over years and years of consumption. Yeah. And, and still have a memorable drink that makes you feel special basically.

PB:

Yeah, I It's interesting. You mentioned the kind of the sound of just opening a beer, but also, I related that to smoking when I used to smoke the I would always hate other people liking my cigarettes, because you would you have that. And I think it's kind of there is something psycho analytical about it, when you hear the sound of that, and the feel of the Zippo and the connection that you have with all that it all kind of infuses the experience and the same of drink. But you you mentioned also the the moment where you do treat yourself because I felt like you know, if you do if you don't drink I mean, I didn't drink for about four and a half years when he just started drinking again recently, but there was never anything that I could do. That was a decent ritual, where I would feel like I'm treating myself if you know what I mean, even though I'm not, I'm not drinking, I guess I'm treating my body well, in that respect, but I'm not having any special moments. So I'm glad this time.

Unknown:

It is it's whether it's you know, the non, there's lots of known OUT out there, lots of good ones, and lots of them allow you that moment where you prepare something that you feel special from. And, and it's not just, you know, I'm not drinking too, I'm not having this moment, it's been part of, you know, being part of that, that experience that, you know, it's part of, certainly part of British society. And, you know, much wider than that, I'm sure. But you know, we are a creature of habit. And certainly over my number of years on the planet. So far, alcohols formed a big part of it. You know, we've got bars and restaurants and stuff that that we have as a business. And you know, we can go down and you know, I'm going as I said to you earlier, I'm going down to the beach afterwards, we've got a bar down there. But you know, then I've got a 20 minute drive back home. So you know what, I won't be able to drink or wherever I point but it allows me that moment where I'm like, Cool. I'm in the bar. Yeah, having a drink. I don't feel like I'm having something less than everyone else. I feel like I'm part of that. And yeah, it's hugely important.

PB:

And how healthier is it? I always thought this when I was at the bar, not drinking, how healthier is it to have like a coke? Or like you're having a ginger ale there. I mean, in terms of it's not because you just you're putting, you're putting like that alternative of well, let's just put more sugar in rather than blood

Unknown:

sugar content, some of those soft drink traditional subjects, even if it's a glass of orange juice, right? It's actually not really good for you at all. So I can't, I should know these facts. I think I point is, if you mix our high point, Ruby with tonic like a slimline tonic, that's less sugar content and a normal gin and tonic so it's not like we are giving you a lesson particularly high sugar content drink. And because you don't drink lots of it, it's a low consumption product. So as I say, you know, I'll drink most of the way through this ginger beer now, and I actually have no idea what the sugar content is, but it will be a lot. Yeah. So but,

PB:

but it's never the, it's never the healthy alternative. I mean, when people start

Unknown:

soft drinks, soft drinks aren't particularly healthy. I mean, water is good for you, as we all know, but it doesn't replace that moment. So to have a low low, a sugar product that allows you to have a lower consumption rate and a sort of high sugar products is great. And we don't sell our product, you know, we aren't I mean, you can see me a lot of your listeners can't see me, but I'm not this health guy. It's just about better choices for me. So, you know, they are it is a healthier, but we don't sell it as a health product. Because I think when you're selling things as a health product, or a healthier alternative, for me, it's just about, you know, we all need to make some better choices in our lives. We know, we all know we shouldn't do something. So this allows you a credible alternative to some of those moments you might have without feeling that you're not getting the same as everyone else. Do

PB:

you think also there's a demand now for a higher demand for non alcoholic drinks now because there was so little choice back, you know, I'd say 1020 years.

Unknown:

Totally, I mean, you go back, like don't even know, five years even displeasure on whether bar shelf, a supermarket shelf was, you know, one or two products. Now there is selection there. And there's, there's different, you know, there's not our gins and vodkas, be honest, that are really getting on a bucket because vodka doesn't really taste good. You know, we've got spricht st eight hours of made into spritz or mixes and got a really smoky one. So you know, doesn't try and mimic a whiskey, but it might replace it in a cocktail and things like that. There are we've got a selection of knowledge behind me. I can see over there, we've got an Indian based spice one, there's not outbids back there, you know, there's there's not alcohol tennis is pretty much everything. And that's great, you know, just having selection, because, you know, much as I like our products, I don't always want to drink the same thing, you know, once. And so I think having a credible selection of our adult beverages that, you know, you can drink in an adult environment, whether that's the bubble, round a dinner, going out with friends at party, whatever it is that you don't feel that, you know, to like the schouler days you get to a party, and if you weren't, you weren't drinking, they give you a bottle of slur or an elderflower cordial, like, but at the same time, it's hardly excited after your second one year a

PB:

bit. Yeah, it's enough to get your drinking again. Yeah, absolutely.

Unknown:

So yeah, I think you know, the selection that's around and not out to amazing at the moment. And, and it's great. And the quality, I think now is better than ever before as well. So there are not out products out there that, you know, are great, and great alternatives, and great replacements. And, and so that's, you know, all all good for the industry. And it allows, because the standards improvement, I think it's drawing more people in, which means there's more consumers and people making, you know, as I said, making better choices, and whatever fits in their lives.

PB:

And I was gonna ask this at the beginning, but where does the name high point come from?

Unknown:

So high point is, so on the bottle, there's a rock formation. And it's actually from the highest point of Cornwall, which is called router, it's actually not the highest pitch the second highest point, but the highest points actually go brown Willie, and we didn't think Brown was gonna go that well, but not our product. So high. Both was named after a router, a rock formation on router, which is sort of a 20 minute walk from my house. And I woke up there a lot with the kids, and it's just sort of it just seemed to fit. Because, you know, we're looking for that high point of your day, you know, that end of the day moment. Where quite often, you know, if you've had a hard day, that beer or that that drink that when you get home is the high point of your day so far. And that's the moment we were looking to replace. So it's sort of fitted, and when we were chatting about it, I was walking up that hill a lot. So it just it just seemed to work.

PB:

And so I you released this last year. Is that right

Unknown:

back in? Yeah. So we were sort of late. Late summer last year. We served it in our own bars last summer, and it went really well. We were due to launch the product itself in June last year but because of COVID and supply issues like bottles didn't arrive till September. So it's August or September. And then yeah, then we sort of got the product into market and we've we've sort of we've picked up we've got some amazing accounts. We're in some of the best bars and restaurants in in London and Cornwall where we've sort of tried to hit first. And it's going really well. Yeah, people are people are loving it, there's, there's, it's, it's, it's a product with lots of flavour. It's not and it's slightly different. So, you know, we would definitely polarisers especially the amber which is really smoky so we actually smoke some of the ingredients in their sparkling liquid eyes. Right, you know, it's different and because of that, you know, it is slightly polarising. People really love it or really hate it. And I'm cool with that, you know, I think we make a product that it's just all right, and it sits in the middle and no one really cares. It doesn't fill anyone with any passion. So I'd much prefer to be a product that you love or you know, I mean, hates a strong word, but you know, you can really get behind or it's really not for you, I think just bland in the middle. You know, we we get we get our reviews are like, Oh, this is the best thing I've ever tried. Well, this really isn't for me. That's, that's cool. You know, the joy is that we're getting like 75% People really love it and 25 out and it obviously was the other way around. We

PB:

wouldn't be commercially viable. But what would you say? It's a bit like maybe peated whiskey in it. It's a device.

Unknown:

But it's it's not it's not trying to sit in a whiskey space, but we're finding people use it instead of the Amur especially, it's bartenders are absolutely loving it as an ingredient. Alcoholic non alcoholic drinks. I think a lot of non Alex aren't very punchy, they're not. They're not like in your face big flavours. So when you mix them into cup knockout cocktails, you're not really getting the benefit of the drink, but as a big punchy, vibrant flavours, so when they're mixing them, they're able to mix them into into big full flavoured drinks. And we've got everything from Collins is to Nick RONIS. And that you know, people are replacing really big tequila like smoke tequilas big smoky whiskies, with the Amber said that all sorts when it comes down to those big punchy flavours that are great for people to sort of hang their hat on.

PB:

Yeah, I'm always curious with non alcoholic drinks or, or, say a brewery company that's already got an established product and then branching out. I actually went to the Isle of I lay some years back and the brook Vladik distillery there, they started to just do gin in the last couple of years alongside their whiskey. But they said that they could actually, it was a faster turnover, because they had all the botanicals on the island anyway to make the gin and of course, you don't need gin to ferment for as long as whiskey. So I'm transmitting that over to you. There's the the non alcoholic version of a drink, does that take longer to put together then maybe brewing

Unknown:

a beer instead? I mean, I think well, let's talk about normal non out. As far as I'm aware, there's not many people really making not out in the market. So there's a lot of smoke and mirrors around what is actually going on in the industry. And I think people are conscious of that when they're paying, you know, 20 pounds for a bottle going well, what am I really paying for? What we do, and I can I can actually show you, the facility, where we make it is we basically make a base liquor which is fermented takes around three weeks to ferment. So a beer takes about two weeks. So already it's a longer process than than then making beer. So we make this base liquor, and then we age it on different things. So we take one big batch, and then we'll age it on all sorts of different botanicals. Like we've got oak in there, we've got different zests. So we've got great, for example, the orange, and then and then we get together all of those things at the end, and they all age and infuse for different amounts of time. And then we blend those back into the base liquids. So we make two or three different base liquids at one different infusions. And then so yeah, our prostate is between, you know, at the quickest three weeks for some of the infusions right up to sort of eight weeks for others. And we've got barrel aged version. So as we're talking about how we do it, I'll take you through magic door.

PB:

Yeah, this will be fun, actually. So yeah, whilst you're walking through the doors, Eddie's going to show us a few batches if you're on the YouTube people, we can show you this clip on the YouTube head over to menswear style.

Unknown:

This is Darling sir facility. We got a big window behind me here, which is why it's all a bit nice. Yeah. So this is where we make the base liquor. It's a little little brewery. So we make basically make a tea base using all sorts of different teas, green teas, black teas. Lapsang goes into the ambo. So we've got all the smokiness that you get from that thing. Then we ferment in a few of these different vessels so you can open up vessels. We will do aerobic fermentations. We do anaerobic fermentation as we switch between the two so we get a bit geeky with all the different bacteria. We've got product ageing in barrels, if you look at those giant 3000 litre barrels back there, we've got different products ageing and those right down to some of the more obscure infusions where you got these big vats on the For a while, you've got all sorts of different bits that are just ageing at different different levels. And then we get, what we do is we take all of those different component parts and blend them back to give us the sort of the dream sort of liquid at the end. So amazing. It's a natural product, it's fermented with both yeast and bacteria. It takes time. And I think people get what it's about, and yet they understand why they're paying, you know, takes us weeks to make this product and I think people therefore can appreciate it. And you know, we are craftsmen are so

PB:

fascinating. Well, any I think you might attend

Unknown:

in some flavour profile lab.

PB:

Could you tell us just a wrap up the people that might be buying some high point drinks, what the best signature serves might be maybe a two or three signature serves that you recommend or some that you've already gotten on your go?

Unknown:

I mean, the high point which I'll just grab a bottle of

PB:

Yeah. A quick look at these. Eddie's just gone to the top shelf.

Unknown:

back, come back, I do. That's right. Here we go. Really big red. It's Ruby coloured. It's beautiful red, sort of Campari coloured drink. We that you know, signature seven that was super simple, just with tonic 50 mils, of tonic of, of high point with a standard bottle of tonic water to seven five bottle over ice slice of grapefruit. Just perfect. You know, really sunny day bear sunny day drink that you can just get the iron and sipping the sun and that's sort of where it all started. And then Amber, really, you know, us our serve with this one. I mean, people get crazy. We got people making all sorts of different drinks. But you know, just standard 50 mil with a ginger beer over eyes works great. Right click, you know, I was drinking this the other day with vinto old school. Old school, I have a northern I said, you know, having vimto we just had to around and someone said you should try that too, just with lime and Pinto. It was next level. Honestly, it was amazing. Smoke, like stearic took what his kids drink to, to just a whole nother level it brings fermentation what what fermentation does, it brings, it brings complexity to products. And so you're getting really complex, layered flavours from these things. And, and you just don't get that you just don't get it from any other technique of liquid production in my view. So what they allow, you know, the album, but definitely, you know, get get hold of it, play with it, you know, it's not bad, don't drink it neat. Like it just doesn't taste great. Mix it mix it into ginger beer as a standard serve or ginger ale or really get creative. And then the Amber's. So the room is totally different, just for the tonic water. And it makes a really great laundry.

PB:

And it will be a nice surprise for the guests. I think so now that we're opening up a bit and we're suns coming out a few more Garden Parties, this will be something different for people to get involved with as well and be conversations stimulated around the barbecue. And

Unknown:

I think it people are really surprised me some of the ingredients and now that you're really only getting alcohol. So things like Wormwood people don't have that flavour normally in their lives. But the places you would have had it before it's upset and it's in quite a lot of alcoholic drinks. So that's in both of these products. And when you drink it people get it has got alcohol in it can taste the alcohol, it really doesn't have alcohol in there. And that plays some tricks to the mind, which is great. And it just gets people thinking and talking and and that's what quite often, you know, those situations where we are drinking alcohol traditionally, are about their social situations. So, you know, they do a lot of the things by date, they open things up. It's conversation piece, and it gets people talking and communicating and enjoying an evening.

PB:

I'm all involved with that. I can't wait to get my get my hands on a bottle of that. Definitely the ammo that I'm going for first but there, Eddie, I appreciate you got a bit of a hard out you got a beach to get to. I've got a dog to pick up from the vets. I could talk to you for hours, but maybe another time. Thanks so much for walking us through and showing us behind the scenes and continued success mate. Thanks very much you've been listening to the menswear style podcast be sure to head over to menswear style.co.uk For more menswear content and email info at menswear style dot code at UK if you'd like to be a future guest on the show. Finally, please help support the show by leaving a review on iTunes or wherever you're listening to this podcast. Until next time

(Cont.) Eddie Lofthouse, Founder of High Point Drinks